Beef Tehari

(Old Dhaka Style Beef Biriyani)

Written by Nasrul Eam

Honestly, I do not remember when I had the beef tehari for the very first time, but obviously it was at the downtown of old Dhaka, where it is hugely popular. And if you ever visit that place, the congested buildings one after another, the narrow alleys, where two cars can hardly go side by side, you can locate numerous small restaurants, who are special in making delicious tehari. Sitting there and watching ever changing street life, and enjoying this mouthwatering dish is definitely a moment to remember.

The aromatic rice, the beef, the green chilies, and the unique flavor of mustard oil, make Beef Tehari one of the best dishes in the world. In essence it is one kind of Biriyani, however, it misses the saffron, the Indian clarified and caramelized butter – ghee and mutton, which define biriyani as biriyani.

Beef Tehari is relatively easy to cook if you follow this simple recipe, and if you want to make it tastes like the tehari of old Dhaka, you must use mustard oil. It gives this dish the richness that is good enough to tempt even the fussiest palate.

Beef Tehari

Beef Tehari


4-pound beef4 cloves
2-pound Indian aromatic rice10 green chilies
4 shallots, chopped1 ½ cup ghee, mustard or vegetable oil
½ cup onion paste2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon garlic paste2 Indian bay leaves
1 table spoon coriander seed paste1 cup sour or greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon cumin seed paste½ teaspoon nutmeg powder
2 tablespoons ginger paste4 green cardamoms
1 cinnamon sticks

How to Make It Delicious


1. Ground the nutmeg into a food processor and make it powder.
2. Cut the beef into bite-size chunks, and marinate it for 30 minutes with 1 cup sour or greek yoghurt, ½ cup onion paste, 1 tablespoon garlic paste, 1 table spoon coriander seed paste, 1 tablespoon cumin seed paste, ½ teaspoon nutmeg powder, ½ cinnamon sticks, 1 Indian bay leaves, 2 green cardamoms, 2 tablespoons ginger paste, and 2 teaspoons salt.
3. In a saucepan put the marinated beef and cover the pan, then cook gently over medium-low heat until the beef is tender. Around 1 hour.
4. In a pan over medium-low heat, warm the 3 tablespoons ghee then add chopped shallots and sauté until they are lightly browned. Add the lightly browned shallot to the beef, then stir well.
5. Continue stirring until the water is less and the oil starts floating.
6. Once the oil starts floating, separate the beef from the spice and set aside into a plate.
7. In a wide saucepan over medium-low heat, again warm the 3 tablespoons ghee then add chopped shallots and sauté until they are lightly browned. Add 1 Indian bay leaves, ½ cinnamon sticks, 2 green cardamoms, 4 cloves, and the beef spice that you have just separated from the beef. Put the Indian aromatic rice to the spice, rest of the ghee and sauté it for few minutes. Add 6-7 cups of hot water and a small amount of salt for taste, then cover the pan over medium-low heat.
8. When the water in the rice is almost dried out, add the set aside beef on the top, but do not stir them. Cover the pan and put it over low heat for 20 minutes.
9. Add 10 green chilies on the top, then again cover if for another 5 minutes.
10. Turn off the burner but do not open it for next 20-25 minutes, let it stay in the serving temperature.
11. To finish, stir lightly and garnish the tehari with salad and serve with borhani and chatni.

Bengali Cuisine

Preparation Time
30 minutes

Cooking Time
1 hour 30 minutes

Difficulty Level

Ingredient Availability
Indian stores

Main Course

10 people


Adding whole green chilies just before finishing the dish, differentiate it from the other Indian biriyani. However, giving whole chilies will not make your tehari hot, rather it will give you an authentic flavor.

When you add the beef on top of the rice, do not stir them, or you will end up having a sticky rice.

You may add sautéed potatoes when you sauté the rice, if you want to.

When you add the chilies, the rice may seem little uncooked, but do not add any extra water. The key to make this dish perfect is to keep it covered for 20-25 minutes after you turn off the burner. You may take a small pan, filled it with water and put in on the burner over medium heat. Then place the wide saucepan, where your tehari is, on top of the small pan. The stream from the lower pan allows the tehari to stay at proper serving temperature and make the rice not feel uncooked.

Remember, the taste of any dish is hugely depends on salt, so measure the salt with your senses. In time, you will develop a tactile memory for just the right amount.

Last and most important before eating this wonderful dish, don’t forget to begin with the name of Almighty, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, for giving us the opportunity to enjoy His bounty, and as always, you can feel the soul of your dish when share it with someone you love.